GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - You can count Nakie Joye among the 12.8% of Michigan residents counted by the state as unemployed in October.
"All I can do is hold on, but sometimes, you feel like you're holding on by a thread," the Kentwood man told 24 Hour News 8.
The 30-year-old said he got a temp job earlier this year, but the company got rid of its temp workers in August. So, it was back to unemployment.
Joye is now fighting to hang on to his benefits, but without another federal extension, he figures he'll run out by around New Year's.
"My kids might not have the greatest Christmas this year," Joye said.
Without benefits, he said, he hopes to find work plowing snow or doing anything to help support his family.
But if he loses his benefits and does not find work, would he still be counted as unemployed?
As long as he continues to look for work, the answer should be yes.
It's common to think the unemployment rate is based entirely on who's getting unemployment benefits, said Jason Palmer of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.
But Palmer said it's not true.
The statewide data comes from a survey done by the U.S. Census Bureau . The bureau interviews a sample of Americans and determines whether they're employed, unemployed or not a part of the workforce at all.
To figure out local numbers, such the unemployment rate in Metro Grand Rapids or Metro Kalamazoo, Palmer said unemployment benefits are part of the calculation but not all of it.
Those who stop looking for work can't be counted as unemployed.
And if people who run out of benefits don't continue looking for work, the end of federal unemployment extensions could lead to a lower unemployment rate, despite some of those people not returning to the workforce.
Still, people in Joye's position would be considered unemployed for purposes of calculating the rate -- so long as they continue looking for a job. But "financially, it doesn't help me out, whether I'm counted or not," he said.
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